Posted by on May 01, 2013 in Blog


While the US Congress continues to debate the use of drones to spy on or target US citizens, the Florida legislature has moved forward, unanimously passing a law limiting how police can use unmanned drones for surveillance. On Thursday, Governor Scott signed the bill into law, saying “We shouldn’t have unreasonable surveillance of ourselves.” The law precludes law enforcement’s use of drones without a warrant or threat of terrorist attack. It also prohibits the use of information collected by drones as evidence in court. The law’s Senate sponsor, Joe Negron, said “It’s important that, as American citizens, we respect the role of law enforcement, but we just don’t want a general practice of drones hovering in the sky monitoring the activities of lawful Floridians.”

Note:  On May 3, AAI will be hosting a briefing on Capitol Hill on the use of armed drones. The event, featuring testimony by Farea al-Muslimi, will be live-streamed on AAI’s website. Visit at 10:00 a.m. Eastern on Friday to watch the briefing.

Brief Summary of Florida's Drone Legislation

Florida's drone bill was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott on April 26, 2013 and will take effect on July 1, 2013. It prohibits the use of drones by law enforcement agencies to gather evidence or other information except:

  • To counter a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the US Secretary of Homeland Security determines that credible intelligence indicates that there is such a risk.
  • If the agency has obtained a search warrant signed by a judge authorizing the use of a drone
  • If the agency has reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect or the destruction of evidence, or to achieve purposes including, but not limited to, facilitating the search for a missing person.
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